Reporting from the Front

Went to Arsenale today and walked through the works of famous architects who are working on the ground with projects engaging their context. What stood out for me was Tadao Andy’s rejected concrete obelisk on the Venice island. 

Another was a small feature in the Italian pavilion: a hole in a wall. It worked like a black hole and everyone walking past wanted to see it. The content was not relevant but the idea that there is something out there to discover draws people in. The intrigue is more exciting than the realisation. 
That is the same story repeated in a lot of the architecture in the exhibition. It was not just about displaying something as it is. The approach is equally, if not, more important than the object itself. 

Another bit of the Italian pavilion caught my eye – a small exhibition about events in Italian cities where the public gathers and act. Whether it is a funeral for Pavarotti, a horse race in Sienna, demonstrations at the Coloseo, all of these involve spaces and people occupying or moving through them in certain sequences. The exhibition did just that. It led people through folded ramps lined with pictures of these events hanging on the walls. The path made the visitor think about these events and the participation of architecture in these ceremonies – a process of understanding. But the most powerful message was that the path led to nowhere. The visitor is met at the end, a dead end where he or she then has to retrace the steps to the beginning – a process of reflection. 

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